By Nathan DeenMay 15, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (May 15, 2013) -- Things looked bleak for the Western Hemisphere for Security Cooperation soccer team when one of its best players picked up a red card and was ejected 11 minutes into Thursday's championship game of the Army Sports Program Soccer Tournament against the 11th Engineer Battalion at Doughboy Stadium.
But then again, things had looked bleak for the team when it opened the double-elimination tournament with a loss to the Engineers and were sent to the loser's bracket. WHINSEC fought through the loser's bracket, came back to force a winner-take-all game against the Engineers and took an early 1-0 lead, but the team appeared fatigued even before the red card.
Playing on a regulation-size soccer field with 11 players is a challenge in itself, but in a six-player format, a 40-yard field, and 29 minutes remaining on the clock, WHINSEC team captain Carlos Mora said he couldn't believe his team held on for a 1-0 win.
"We're done," Mora said he thought when teammate, Marcial Rivas went to the sidelines and left WHINSEC with a man down the rest of the way.
But they weren't. The Engineers, who were shut out in both games, appeared to be knocking on the door for a goal in Game 1 and it seemed inevitable they would score in Game 2 after the red card. But WHINSEC tightened up and devoted its remaining four players and keeper to defense and withstood the storm of shots-on-goal that followed.
"When we lost one guy, we said, 'That's it, no more offense,'" Mora said.
Rivas provided the early goal in the eighth minute before committing a hand ball to pick up his second yellow card. He had almost no room to shoot on the right side, but his kick from three yards banked off the right post and into the net.
"If the other team had scored first, we would have played the same way -- defense," Mora said. "You've got to take care of that first."
WHINSEC suffered defeat in the Commander's Cup Postseason Soccer Tournament championship game to the 75th Ranger Regiment, but came back to beat the Rangers in the play-in game from the loser's bracket Thursday.
"We had to win every game we played to make it to the finals," Mora said. "Tonight we played three games. The (Commander's Cup) tournament last week was rough. We are burned out."
The Army Sports Program, an initiative of Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, entered Phase 1 at Fort Benning with spring sports, which included soccer, basketball and volleyball. Phase 1 is competition at the installation level and every battalion is allowed a team to compete. The plan is for Phase 2 and 3, which will determine region champions and Army champions, to be implemented in the fall sports tournaments after fiscal 2014 has begun.
The 203rd Brigade Support Battalion defeated the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion 66-65 to win the basketball title. 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment won the volleyball title by defeating the 789th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment.